2021 Situk River Steelhead Opening
Heavy snow and cold weather really threw a wrench at us this spring. We opened the lodge and then got pounded with 4 feet of snow on top of the 4- to 5 feet already on the ground. Sadly that put the brakes on our Spring run. But, thankfully following a solid rain, we’ve had nothing but beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine which has all but melted the most stubborn layers of ice and snow. The upper stretch from 9 Mile to the Sanctuary is producing solid numbers of dark winter fish so we know the lake has at least iced out at the mouth and fish are freely coming and going from the headwaters. Fresh fish, however, seem to be in a stalemate with the weather. While the warmer weather has increased the surface temperatures during the day, we still are struggling to see nighttime water temps above 37 degrees. That does not bode well for the Situk steelhead report and those fish looking to make their annual trek back to their spawning habitat. Who can blame them? I’d rather be sipping umbrella drinks in a warmer climate myself.
Situk Lake trail is still snowed in so the only access is the death march from 9-Mile Bridge. We’re also still missing what seems to be an entire run of cutthroat trout and our annual spring return of Dolly Varden, another indication that water temp is not quite right yet. With the snow melt, water levels are hovering above 220 CFS and should head right back up into the high 200’s or low 300’s for the next week or so. There is more than enough snow and ice in the mountains to keep up good water levels through June.
We are starting to see in the past few days a general increase in the amount of fresh fish moving into the river system. I am no wizard at predicting runs, but historically the last week of April and first weeks of May are when the run peaks out. I’m predicting that we are just seeing a late run and as the water temperature continues to rise, we should see an influx of fresh steelhead to the river system in the coming weeks for an improved Situk steelhead report.
The weather over the next several days is expected to be cloudy and bring some rain. It is not enough for a famous Situk blowout, but still enough to melt the remainder of the snow on the banks. Hopefully warmer waters, instead of the dramatic temperature swings we have been seeing, should leave us with a good month of solid Situk steelhead reports. River traffic seems to be thinning out a little but it’s still pretty busy out there, so please remember to practice good river etiquette while floating or walking.
Yakutat Bay Saltwater Fishery
When the Situk steelhead report is less than stellar, or you just need a break from working the water, The Yakutat Lodge’s Happy Hooker Charter Fleet is raring to go and has been for the past couple weeks. Bottom fishing has been very consistent, and many clients are leaving from their steelhead trips with a bonus box of big fat halibut and king Salmon fillets. It is the best of both worlds. While sunshine makes for tough fishing for steelhead, fish at 80 to 150 feet off the bottom of the ocean cannot tell the difference. It’s still early in the season, but the halibut bite has been very productive with multiple fish landed this week in the 80 to 120-pound range. King salmon have also been very productive either trolling or drifting jigs over kelp beds. It is tough to beat an ocean-fresh king slamming a jig and trying to run away with it. While the herring spawn is now in full swing, we should be seeing a continuous and solid catch rate. Non-resident limits are still one king per day with a two-fish annual limit. Charter halibut retention remains closed on Wednesdays and daily limits are two (one fish any size and one fish 32 inches or less) with no annual limits this year. Black rock fish are plentiful and fat this year, but demersal slope rockfish (yelloweye, china, quillbacks, tigers and copper) remain closed for the 2021 sportfishing season.